Genetic liability for opioid use linked to increased risk for depression and anxiety


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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The findings of a study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggest prescription opioid use is linked to an increased risk of depression.

The Mendelian randomisation (MR) study used statistics from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to investigate the potential associations between genetic liability for prescription opioid and other pain medications and major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety and stress-related disorders (ASRD).

In a sample of 737,473 participants, genetic liability for increased prescription opioid use was associated with increased risk of both MDD (odds ratio [OR] per unit increase in log odds opioid use 1.14; 95% CI 1.06-1.22; P<.001 and asrd ci p=".004).</p">

Using multivariable MR, these opioid use estimates remained after accounting for other nonopioid pain medications (MDD; OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.04-1.25; P=.005: ASRD; OR 1.30; 95% CI 1.08-1.46; P=.006), and in separate models, accounting for comorbid pain conditions.

Genetic liability for MDD but not ASRD was associated with increased prescription opioid use risk (OR 1.18; 95% CI 1.08-1.30; P<.001>

The authors say that while replication studies are necessary, these findings may inform prevention and intervention strategies directed toward the opioid epidemic and depression.